Carroll Shelby: Patron saint of muscle cars
Carroll Shelby was a visionary who put the American-made muscle car on a global platform, says CNN's Greg Morrison.
May 11th, 2012
09:14 PM ET

Carroll Shelby: Patron saint of muscle cars

Where have all the heroes gone? That question popped into my mind Friday when I learned that Carroll Shelby had died at age 89.

To automotive fanatics like myself, Shelby was the hero of performance cars, starting in the mid-1960s when the Mustang, Camaro and Barracuda dominated our imaginations. Shelby took the Ford Mustang to a level never even considered with the Cobra and Cobra GT models.

While most of his fame came from his modifications of Mustangs, Shelby also shared some of his genius with Chrysler for a few years. While there he took an Omni and converted it from a commuter car to a fire-breathing monster that nearly went airborne when pushed to the limit.

Shelby was more than a gearhead and racer. He was a visionary who put an American-designed, American-built muscle car on a global platform. His appeal was more than mere mechanics and was clearly demonstrated a few years ago when Ford unveiled the latest version of the Mustang on the eve of the Los Angeles Auto show.

Rather than a traditional reveal, the event took place in an airplane hangar at the Santa Monica airport. Instead of crowd of jaded automotive reporters, the stands were filled with Mustang enthusiasts who had been gathering all day for the event. The parking lot was filled with their cars, fully restored, polished to perfection and displayed like new children at a family gathering.

As the new cars thundered onto the floor, the faithful cheered until their lungs hurt. But the biggest cheer was reserved for Shelby, who was greeted as a near-deity when he rode in seat in the latest Mustang. Afterwards he patiently signed autographs, answered questions in a soft Texas drawl and walked among the rows of Mustangs parked in the lot.

Shelby was also a fixture at the Barrett Jackson auction of Classic Cars in Arizona. His presence on the stage there was considered the automotive equivalent of a papal audience. His touch on a vehicle was like rubbing against a saint.

Where have all the heroes gone? Mine is somewhere smiling and trying to figure out how to make an angel’s chariot do zero to 60 in less than 4.8 seconds.

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Filed under: Auto Industry • Chrysler • General Motors • Obituary • Uncategorized
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Ripley! Believe it or dont!

    I like to get down with the darkies on the street corner. If you are looking for a good time, I'll do ANYTHING for some meth. I like it in the poop chute, just like my obese homegirl banasy.

    May 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ripley! Believe it, or dont!

    Now see, i knew you would screw up soon. Got that ip addy now, thank you. Lol.

    May 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ripley! Believe it or dont!

    "Got that ip addy now"
    Well.....I'm waiting genius.
    Where am I then?

    May 12, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ripley! Believe it or dont!

    ........still waiting.....

    May 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. actually

    A few of us were talking about the muscle cars of that era until someone cracked an off-topic joke and the hag ladies set in. Seen it happen a hundred times here and on other news blogs.

    May 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      And just what off topic joke would that be ?

      May 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      And actually there were no posts from an actually, so how could you have been having a converstion ?

      May 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      And the hag man who started it all, hag being derived from the word haggard.

      May 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      @ banasy


      May 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      You're right, bobcat; I've not seen a post by anyone named 'actually'; someone must have taken Umbrage© with your joke about the •ultimate• muscle car and you username, since they stole another known poster and bast ardized your username...I would take Umbrage with that, myself.

      May 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      Mmmmmm Ummmbrage.

      May 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Not me @6:24PM

    May 12, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |

    Memory lanes are long gone, summer nights under street lights, when you could tell what kind of muscle was coming just by sound of its exhaust, and even family cars could be had with 400 plus cubes.
    First time any auto realy blew the doors off my 426 maxi wedge was by a SHELBY COBRA WITH THE 427; and I did not mind.

    May 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
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